Richard Liu – The Owner of China’s Largest E-Retailer

Although not as well known in the western world as in Asia, Richard Liu is just as popular as any modern rock or pop group. Yet, he is neither a politician, an actor, or a singer. Richard Liu Qiangdong is a simple businessman, one who comes from very humble beginnings, and who remains a very simple man.

Richard Liu is the owner of JD. com, China’s biggest e-retailer. We are talking the size of Amazon here (but in China). How did he know how to start JD.com? He didn’t really. Mr. Liu had no intention of starting an online business when he first started out in business.

The First Venture

His first venture was a restaurant he started a year before finishing his degree. In a recent interview with David Rubinstein, he said, “It went bust. Kaput.It was a dead fish in water” Still he was not discouraged from starting his own business so he opened a computer accessory store after finishing University. That one store quickly became 12. Everything was going well, but in 2004, he faced a significant challenge, the SARS epidemic.

When SARS hit, he did not want any of his employees infected, so he sent them home. In turn, this brought a new challenge. How was he supposed to sell with the stores closed. His manager suggested opening an online version of the stores. When he saw that his earnings more than doubled in the first year, he continued to grow his online venture. Adding new categories and products every year. Six years later, he had an eCommerce that sold everything from groceries to appliances.

The Biggest Challenge

The biggest challenge JD.com faced was logistics, so he created an innovative logistics model that allowed for a 6 hour delivery time in Beijing and a day or two in other areas of China. He did this by establishing more than 500 different distribution centers throughout the country. Today, JD.com sits as the biggest online retailer in China comparable to Amazon in the US.

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